05 May 2010

way out west

This is my late Grandmother and her children in a paddock somewhere near Hamilton Victoria in the early 1930's. The photo is from her album and is labelled 'Smithy', so I assume it is Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. One of those happy children is my father, now 87, and right now he is unbearable.
Today when I took his car for service, the garage people told me that back in January when he told them I was coming to take care of him, they thought I would only last a week.
just sayin'. *stomps off looking for empathy*


  1. What a trooper you are! 87 and he's still driving?

  2. Well, his definition of driving differs from almost anybody in the known civilised world, as his assorted speeding fines will attest.

  3. hugs :( I have a bottle of vodka I could send...

  4. Antikva, thank you darling, but I've been drinking and nothing is strong enough.
    Sedgwick - 4th speeding fine recently.

  5. Oh boy, do I ever sympathize with you. My mom is 96 and just as stubborn and critical as ever, even through the dementia.

  6. I want one of those planes. I bet that wouldn't get grounded because of some poxy bit of flume from an Icelandic volcano.

  7. Your grandmother had class and if I could get a closer look I bet she's a beauty like you (btw did she do any topless shots? :)

    My father (82) tells of how he saved up pocket money, did odd jobs etc as a boy - saving up for the chance of having a ride with Kingsford Smith sometime in the late 1930's (I think), when he was dropping in to an paddock or two in NZ. He didn't get enough money for the flight but did manage to scrounge enough to go with another pilot around the same time. Thus begun a long love of flying in small planes.

    No need to say what I think of your father's shenanigans other than the offer of a bed for a night or two in the city still stands.

  8. Thanks AOF, as your story supports, the barnstorming was A Big Deal back then. Those Hamilton farmers wives would have all been out for that and in their Church clothes. She moved to the city after that and always wore her fox stole (with the feet) when she went 'into town' to meet the girls for lunch at The Australia.
    Thank you for your kindness.

  9. Welcome at my place too. We change the sheets on Boxing Day.

  10. Thats you know who is who there? He and Copperwitch's mum could make a couple hey?

  11. Oh dear. My Nan reluctantly gave up driving at the age of 85 after she drove the car through the garage. She liked to tell us that 'I can drive perfectly well. I just can't park or reverse.'

  12. Your fascinating old album pic burned up around four hours of the very scarce time of a now-retired 40+year QANTAS LAME identifying the aircraft in the shot.

    Should you not be aware, it is a SARO (Saunders-Roe) Windhover, taken onto the Australian civil aviation registry in December 1931, as VH-UPB. Only two were ever built, and this one was the prototype. It was damaged beyond repair in May 1936 when blown ashore at King Island.

    This information may be of some help in more precisely dating the photo: I'd lay odds the then Hamilton local newspaper would have some record of the visit if it was indeed 'Smithy' who was present on that occasion. My impression is that such a visit to Hamilton would have likely been before the aircraft went into regular service Melbourne-King Island-Launceston, probably in 1932.

    My own observation on 'Way out West': Like paternal grandmother, like grand-blog-daughter! Even in thumbnail 'Blogger on a cast iron balcony' is unmistakably a descendant of the woman in that old photo. I think its the stance that gave it away even before I had read any text.

    What a fascinating blog, once a pedestrian user like me has, sort of, worked out how it works. So far I haven't seen any sheep in the imagery, but doubtless there is a place for them somewhere. I will find them as I continue to poke through your memories.

    Thanks for your blog.

  13. chocks away flyBoy. I should have updated this post when Mr Kevin O'Reilly advised me of the same thing. He now has a book:
    Flyers of Time published and launched at the Nhill Aerodrome WW2 hangar on October 20th.
    It is a large book, weighs 2kg, has a hardcover, contains hundreds of photographs and illustrations, of 416 pages and printed on quality art paper. It contains a comprehensive index of names, places, aerodromes and landing grounds and I do expect it will be a handy tool for reference libraries, historical societies, etc. The cost will be $65 plus post and packing of $13 (if necessary).
    Being a self published work, quantities are limited so I recommend that those interested advise, as I honestly expect they will all be gone before the end of the year.
    Copies can be ordered via
    Cheque by mail to
    12 Kimber Crt.
    Dingley Village
    Vic. 3172.,
    03 9551 1814
    Stocks are held at
    Dimboola Historical Soc.
    Horsham Historical Soc.
    Bellcourt Books, Hamilton
    Hyland Books, Heffernan Lane Melbourne City.
    Or by direct debit via internet banking, contact me re bank details if required. (Books signed or endorsed if requested)
    'Kevin O’Reilly has compiled a fascinating account of how aviation changed the lives of individuals and communities in country Victoria, and while focussing particularly on Victoria and the Riverina, it typifies a story repeated across the nation. Using mainly reports from the national and rural press, but also from other sources, Kevin has compiled a wonderfully evocative story. It commences with the earliest recorded flights, and progresses through the era of joy-flights, the arrival of notable visitors, air shows, and on to commercial aviation used for the carriage of passengers and freight. Aircraft, people and events form the central cast of this wonderful saga. Wide-eyed journalists conveyed to their readers something of the excitement and adventure experienced by communities, often making their first contact with civil aviation.
    Kevin is to be congratulated on compiling such a generous and comprehensive record for us to enjoy. It is also a tribute to those early visionaries of Victoria and the Riverina who took to the air in flimsy flying machines, or the ground based entrepreneurs, all of whom believed in the exciting possibilities of aviation............ Roger Meyer OAM, President, Civil Aviation Historical Society.

    I cannot tell you how much pleasure this book is giving me and will give me for years to come - I am most impressed with the photographs included. How you were able to track down such a collection is testament to your patience and dedication. I really can`t put it down and am so impressed with the standard of its production and the contents. Having trolled through thousands of files over nearly 50 years of research, I know how much work goes into a book of this nature............. A.H. "Bert" Cookson, Millingandi NSW. Aviation Historian.

    1. Monday 7 March 1932 would be a highly likely date for your photo, if the inference drawn from your grandmother's(?) notation that 'Smithy' was present is correct.

      A quick search of 'Trove' for the Horsham & District Times of 1932, revealed a published itinerary for a visit by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith to Hamilton proposed for that date. He was demonstrating a Fokker tri-motor aircraft throughout the Western Districts, so it seems reasonable to infer that other aircraft operators would also fly in for the occasion.

      None of which absolutely confirms the date for the photo, but it is highly indicative.